Death cap mushrooms technically are not plants but you should avoid them nevertheless just as any other poisonous plants when you are camping or hiking. By its name, it is easy to understand that this type of fungus brings danger. Eating half a cap or 1 ounce of a death cap is enough to send a man to his grave. In fact, the death cap is responsible for most lethal mushroom poisonings in the world. Its toxicity cannot be reduced by freezing, cooking or drying. And the worst news of all is: there is no antidote.
But there is one big problem: death cap mushrooms look like your tasty edible mushrooms. So, how do you know if it is a death cap? Diligence and knowledge is the key.
Most death caps grow during late summer through early winter. But that still depends on the local climate of the area that you are in. Other variations of death caps may still grow, so do not harvest your adventurer’s meal just yet.
- Consider the surroundings where it grows. According to mushroom enthusiasts, death caps typically grow on the base of pine and oak trees. However, there are reports that they can grow on spruce, birch, beech and chestnut trees.
- Note the color of the caps. Death caps are usually greenish or yellowish. When they are aged, they turn brown.
- Death caps have a faint smell that is akin to roses. But don’t be deceived by its smell because fragrance is subjective.
- Death caps grow up to 6 inches. But do not make your judgement by the size alone. When they are young, they look like button mushrooms.
- Check the physical characteristics of the cap. Its underside must have fluted gills that are typically not attached to the stem. The base of a death cap has a volva, a white sac that disintegrates overtime.
Being wary is your best defense against mushroom poisoning. If other characteristics of death cap mushrooms are present but others are not, do not eat it.
This article is part of the Poisonous Plants series.